Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Barbers & Midwives

As Senator Whitmer stated in the LSJ article from March 2012, "“There are fewer requirements in Michigan to become a lay midwife than to be a barber."  Some might find it interesting that our legislators are asking for consistency in the barber profession by proposing a new bill that aims to restrict use of barber poles.  Apparently, barbers have to accumulate 2,000 hours, hold a license, and have knowledge of particular tools and services.  In fact, they have their own symbol, the barber's pole, that is meant to signify such credentials to the public!

The barber bill is aimed at preventing other, less qualified individuals from falsely representing their credentials and meant to provide consistency in professional standards and services. Great idea! I wish that Nurse Midwives would take a hint from barbers and demand that the word "midwife" be clearly, rigorously defined for the public along such high standards. Maybe midwives should also find a symbol they can display that signals their qualifications: consistent standard of education, licensed,  insured, reporting of outcomes, etc.

For those who scoff at the ridiculous comparison of barbers to midwives, wouldn't you say that attending birth - a life and potentially death situation - should require more oversight and consistency in our state? Yet, incredibly, midwives in Michigan are not required to have an education, a license, insurance or a documented scope of practice, and they are certainly not required to report their outcomes. How is it possible that Michigan has more guidelines, expectations, and standards for someone who cuts hair than someone who attends births?  Whether you agree with Senator Whitmer's statement or not, one thing is obvious: Regulations for midwives in Michigan are severely lacking. 

Photo courtesy of the Life Image Archives 

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